The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest

My Dad used to tell a story about a minister who went to serve a small country church. On his first Sunday he noticed an interesting practice during the time of worship. Following the time of singing and just ahead of the sermon, the people on each side of the worship center stood up and exchanged sides of the room. This went on for several weeks. The music would end and people on the left side went over to the right and those seated on the right moved to the left. One day he asked one of the church leaders why the people observed such a ritual. He did not know. Then, he began to ask around. His curiosity was too great to accept no answer. Finally, one of the elderly members explained, “Back in the early days of the congregation a potbelly stove was located in the center isle of the room. People would sit through half the sermon getting very hot on one side of their bodies and very cold on the other. So, they would stand up half way through the service and exchange sides. After the building was renovated with central heat and air conditioning and the stove removed, the people kept the tradition because they had grown comfortable with it. Decades later the practice continued with no one having any clue as to the reason for the habit.

Many people follow traditions in their worship and in their spiritual lives for similar reasons. They have just always done it, so they keep it up. What becomes tragic is that many think those manmade traditions are biblical and put as much faith in them as they do their Bible and their God. If someone wants to change that tradition, they bristle and say, “That’s just not right.” Entire churches have split over the changing of tradition. Brand new denominations have been launched over tradition.

In the 15th chapter of Matthew, Jesus was confronted over his disciples’ breaking the ceremonial hand washing tradition of the Elders. Jesus had no use for such judgment over tradition when those judging were breaking the written Law of God on a regular basis. Part of his words was a quote from the prophet Isaiah 29:13 concerning their hypocrisy, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:8-9 NIV).

God wants our hearts, not our methods. He wants our obedience, not our pretentious attitudes. He wants us to be true, not pretenders. James wrote, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

This Sunday we will join together in worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We will share a message based on 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Matthew 16:13-18 and Ephesians 6 titled, Crashing the Gates. We will look at the mission Christ has for his church and her people of overcoming Satan’s power through the dynamic and all-powerful work of Jesus Christ in our lives. I look forward to seeing you there.

Your brother in Christ,

No Comments




no categories


no tags